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‘Metropolitan mongrel’ seized as pit bull ‘type’

A DOG described by an expert as a “metropolitan mongrel” was seized by police officers as an unregistered, illegal pit bull ‘type’ under Section 1 of the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act.

However, despite one expert listing 20 different points as to how the dog did not conform to the pit bull ‘type’ - - although prosecution vets disagreed - the dog was eventually registered as a pit bull to secure its release.

Proof that Section 1 is still actively pursued came in October 2000 when Michael Taiwo was walking his mongrel dog Shadow on Chingford, east London. PC David Evans and a colleague were driving past in a Metropolitan Police Area Dog Van when they saw Mr Taiwo and Shadow.

The officers pulled up and challenged Mr Taiwo that the dog was an unregistered pit bull ‘type. According to PC Evans’ statement, Mr Taiwo vehemently denied this and a struggle ensued when PC Evans tried to seize Shadow. Mr Taiwo was arrested, but later released and charged under Section 1 of DDA.

Mr Taiwo appointed local solicitors, who contacted the Fury Defence Fund and arranged for KC Bull terrier judge John Branch and Veterinary Surgeon Trevor Turner to examine Shadow and submit their reports on the dog.

After several wasted journeys to Claygate House Police Centre, when Shadow was not available, despite appointments being made in advance, both men finally examined the dog on February 5th 2002 - 16 months after the dog was taken into custody.

John Branch listed 20 reasons why Shadow did not conform to being a pit bull ‘type’, stating that he was “...a mongrel with the characteristics of many dogs, but not enough characteristics to be considered as a pit bull ‘type.”

Trevor Turner’s report stated: “My first impression on seeing Shadow was that he was a well-muscled, short coated, Metropolitan type mongrel, a ‘London Black Dog’....
Shadow...does not have sufficient characteristics of the American Pit Bull terrier to fall within Section 1 of the DDA.”

Prosecution vets Peter Olsen and Alison Jane Morris-Robson, both concurred that Shadow was of the pit bull ‘type’. Mr Olsen said: “Having accepted in my assessment that Shadow falls short of the ideal in a number of respects, I am still of the opinion that Shadow does substantial number of characteristics of the Pit Bull Terrier...”

Ms Morris-Robson added with technical precision: “Although this dog is not a perfect example of a pit Bull terrier, he is one with faults.”

After considerable legal delay, the case was finally booked to be heard over four days at Stratford Magistrates’ Court between February 18th and 21st.

However, on the first day of the trial, Michael Taiwo expressed is fears that there were two prosecution vets engaged and he did not want Shadow to spend any more time in custody if the case was lost and an Appeal would need to be lodged. He therefore accepted an offer made by the police to register Shadow on the Index of Exempted Breeds as a pit bull ‘type’. The Fury Defence Fund paid the fee for this procedure.

He was able to collect his much-loved pet on April 29th 2002 from Ilford police station, Shadow having spent a total of 18 months in custody.

Mr Taiwo expressed his gratitude to John Branch, Trevor Turner and the Fury Defence Fund for assisting and supporting him throughout.